Something you would not expect to find among the list of the ingredients of a biscuit is…meat!

However, if you go beyond your first skeptical reaction, you may taste something really delicious and unique.

These biscuits, typical of Modica (located in the province of Ragusa, in eastern Sicily), were probably created by Sicilian pastry chefs during the Spanish domination of the Kingdom of Sicily, which occurred in the 16th century; this is proven both by the etymology of the name deriving from the Spanish “empanadillas” (empanada), and by the rather unusual combination of meat and chocolate which arrived precisely in that period from Hispanic America. In past centuries, game meat was used to prepare ‘mpanatigghi, but today beef is used.

Some curious anecdotes are told around this dessert. The ‘mpanatigghi, it is said, were born at the hands of the nuns of a monastery, who (perhaps taking pity on the efforts of the preaching brothers who went around the various convents during the Lenten period) hid minced meat between the almond pesto and the chocolate dessert, whose consumption was allowed even during fasting periods, because it was considered a lean food. According to others, however, the preparation of this dessert was linked to the use of game meat during periods of overabundant hunting.

  • DifficultyEasy
  • CostMedium
  • Preparation time15 Minutes
  • Cooking time20 Minutes
  • Cooking methodOven
  • CuisineItalian
  • SeasonalityEvergreen


For the pastry

500 g flour type 0
100 g lard (or ghi)
3 g baking powder
2 eggs
1 spoon sugar
1 pinch table salt

For the filling

200 g beef minced meat
150 g dark chocolate
100 g ground almond
100 g ground walnut
50 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


– pour all the ingredients for the pastry in a large bowl and mix them all together with your hands;
– form a dough then transfer it on a working surface and knead well till you get a smooth ball;
– put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with cling film and put it away from air draft to rest for at least 30 minutes;
– meanwhile prepare the dough by putting the meat into a separate large bowl;
– grate the dark chocolate very finely and pour it onto the meat;
– add all the remaining ingredients of the filling and mix well with your hand till you get a smooth mixture;
– roll down the pastry with a rolling pin into a 2-3mm sheet of pastry;
– cut circles of 10cm diameter;
– place a spoonful of filling mixture in the middle of each circle;
– whet the edges of the circles, then close them as they were ravioli and seal them well with your fingers;

– make a small incision with a sharp knife on the biscuits closed into ravioli;
– place the biscuits onto a baking tray folded with baking paper;
– bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes;
– allow the biscuits to cool down, then serve topped with some icing sugar

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